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04/27/2012 China (ChinaAid) – ChinaAid has recently learned that house churches in several province have recently encountered intense persecution by local authorities, a handful of which are reported below.

1) At the end of March, a house church in Daqing, Heilongjiang province held a Bible training session that was raided by Domestic Security Protection agents and officials from the Bureau of Religious. More than 150 church leaders were apprehended, including 10 foreigners (nationalities unknown). The local government has imposed a strict news blackout and threatened family members to keep quiet, so efforts to find out how many people remained in custody have yielded no updates.

2) On April 1, brother Jia Deji, the head of the evangelism group at a government-approved Three-Self church in Jiazhuang village, Shenqiao township, Zhecheng county in Henan province, was expelled from the evangelism group by the local chairman of the China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Association, Pastor Zhang Yongqiang, and also ordered to stop preaching. Brother Jia holds an evangelism certificate jointly issued by the provincial, municipal and county governments. However, in February, he invited Pastor Zhang Mingxuan, head of the Chinese House Church Alliance, to his home to hold two days of thanksgiving services, and he had attended house church services at the home of Xu Tietou, an elder of the Zhukou town house church in Taikang county. Xu is a paralytic who has not been able to move for 40 years.

3) On April 14, 53 local house church leaders were arrested in Ye county, Henan province, while holding a Bible study. To date, more than 20 people remain in custody.

4) On the afternoon of April 22, local government officials led more than a dozen mafia types masquerading as Christians to the Hongqiao Church in Xianan District, Xianning city, in Hubei province, where they smashed open the donation box and stole the money, then changed the locks on the church doors. They also forced all the Christians to leave the church, and beat Elder Xu Shizhen. Leading the attack were the directors of the religious affairs bureau, one surnamed Yang and the other named Wu Suqiong. The other government officials involved were the chairmen of the local China Christian Council and the Three-Self Patriotic Association: Mao Yao, Fan Baosheng and Ceng Pingsheng. In the past two years, one of the church’s lay leaders who frequently takes the pulpit and preaches, ShiShanghai, has been beaten three times by these government officials. The construction of Hongqiao Church’s church building was funded entirely by donations from church members, and construction was personally overseen by church leader Xu Shizhen.

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